After Being Told I was Promoted . . . I Quit

If the interviewers knew the type of student I was in school, they would probably have rejected my application right away. I was hyperactive, restless, and even “overly dramatic”—according to one teacher’s description in my report card. Apparently, I talked too much in one class, slept through another subject, and was highly distracting on other occasions. In short, I was far from your model student.

But I was confirmed—as a teacher. And the first thing I did upon receiving confirmation for my first job was to sit down and write, sign, and seal my resignation letter. (I’ll explain why later.)

To cut the long story short, what changed for me between then (as a hyperactive teenager) and now (a manager of a leadership training company) is that I became a follower of Christ. And a key part of my transformation happened during my first internship.

During my university days, I joined a tiny company as an intern. They were barely one year into the business and were highly welcoming towards young, energetic undergraduates—like me—who could help with filing, packing, and all the other menial tasks around the office. At first, I found them a little too positive and encouraging. But I understood when I found out later that all the owners were Christians. Their vision was to reach out to young people across the country by weaving biblical principles and parables into a tailor-made curriculum which they brought into schools in the form of leadership, life skills, or character development programmes.

Training and planning alongside them inspired me; I saw how daily work and the gospel message could work hand in hand. Every trainer was passionate, not just about teaching or the students’ welfare, but also in communicating biblical truths. What caught my heart were the long hours spent in the meeting room, reading the Word, and brainstorming, with the aim of improving the content to better engage students of different ages, learning abilities, and family backgrounds.

So, as I neared my university graduation, I decided to apply for a full-time position in the company . . . only to be flatly rejected by the directors. They shared with me openly that as the company was new, things were not stable. They weren’t sure how things would pan out, and didn’t want me to take a risk in joining them. They suggested I considered teaching instead.

It took them some time to convince me, as I could not imagine how a “bad” student like me could be a teacher. Eventually, it was a statement made by one of the directors that set my mind on teaching: “It takes a difficult student to truly understand and empathize with the least interested student in a class, so go and teach as how you would have liked to have been taught.”

I graduated from the teaching course with a distinction, and in my second year of teaching, became Acting Level Head, and then Subject Head in the following year. My department also won a nationwide student engagement competition, then took third place in the global version of the same competition. In my third year, I was invited to be a part of the curriculum development team; in the next year, I joined the strategic planning team (which comprises school leaders and potential school leaders).

I guess you could say I was doing well in my career and was considered an award-winning educator. On the personal level, teaching had become a passion and joy, and my students had become a huge part of my life. At the end of my fourth year of teaching, my principal offered me a pay raise and a promotion.

And that’s when I handed in the resignation letter I had written before my first day of work.

To many, I know my resignation appeared senseless; but I knew that it was what I had to do. Right from the start, I knew that I wanted to work for the company I had interned with, and that my teaching years were simply a training ground and a season of preparation for what God was leading me to.

At the time I quit my teaching job, that very company was still small—there were only six full-time staff and about 40 regular clients. Joining them would mean not only losing the promotion and pay raise offered by the school, but also having to settle for half the salary I was drawing. My friends and family tried to dissuade me from resigning and said it was foolish to do so just as I was doing well in my teaching career. One of my colleagues said I was “committing career suicide”. Worse still, I had to deal with the pleas of my students when they heard I was leaving.

But the heartbeat of the company—sharing the gospel and biblical principles to students—kept my resolve. No other offer could take my eyes away from my dream of working with it and being a part of the work.

It’s been five years since I joined them, and I have not once regretted my resignation. Scouring my Bible day after day for curriculum ideas, teaching students about the importance of biblical principles, and honing their God-given abilities, have proved to be far more rewarding than a raise, promotion, or the affirmation of my family and friends.

I’m also thankful that God has blessed me with the opportunity to “teach” my former students when they join us as interns or part-timers, to work with former colleagues who are now my clients, and to find good friends in my directors.

And although the company is far from “successful” at this stage (because the gospel has not yet been planted in every school and in every student), I’m motivated to continue laboring on in the Lord.

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